A few days after the demolition of my school, something quite interesting happened. A parent brought his daughter to the new site for the first time and saw that we only had a makeshift in place for the kids. Angrily, he ranted for a few minutes.
âWhat sort of nonsense is this? Is this where you want my daughter to come and learn? I canât let my daughter stay here. When you guys are ready to do business, let me know.â
With that, he zoomed off. This action of his affected us in many ways. He was aware that it was not our fault that things were the way they were. All that he could have done was to at least encourage us but he chose instead to incite the other parents.
Few days after that arrogant act, many parents withdrew their wards from our school even though we were just about to write exams. Some people cited distance as the reason for the withdrawal but we knew better. This troubled my wife greatly.
âPlease let us forget about this school and go and look for jobs,â she suggested when it was now obvious that we were not making any meaningful progress. She had lost hope completely because out of the seventy nine pupils that we already had, only thirty one now remained with us at our new place.
I did not believe that closing the school was a good idea because for two and a half years, we suffered the pangs of hunger, borrowed like beggars and were ridiculed by many. Our lives had moved from the sublime to the ridiculous. My kids had literarily been made to think that we were not like other people because we were always in lack. All because of the school!
I had sacrificed a lot. I was not willing to let go just like that.
I had always told my wife that until we had spent three whole years running the school, she must never bring up the idea that we should shut it down no matter what we were going through. This was why it was difficult for her to convince me that it was time for us to close shop.
âWe are yet to spend three years,â I told her.
It was true. The school was about two and a half years old when it was demolished.
âBut what is there to hope for?â she said referring to the number of pupils we now had and the pathetic condition we now lived.
âWait until it has reached three years old. If it canât feed us after three years, we will shut it down.â
The three years target was just about six months away. If nothing was done fast to extinguish her disillusionment and doubts about the future, I was doomed.
âYou better start looking for where to borrow money from,â she went on, âif not many more parents will withdraw their kids from the school and we will be left with.â
It was for this reason that I decided to go and see a school owner who was my motherâs friend.
Someone reminded me of her. Sheâs a millionaire who has a school in Abuja and who could help me. I really needed help. Most of the people I knew had abandoned me in the cold. There was no place I hadnât gone to borrow from and ask for help.
âShe was a friend of your mother. Go and talk to her. As a school owner herself, she will be able to understand and relate with your plight.â I was urged by a relative.
I decided to go and see the woman the following week and meeting her reduced my age by ten years. She gave me the listening ear and told me about what she herself had gone through in the course of doing her business.
âListen young man, donât give yourself headache, this will pass. Just go and do the best you can.â She encouraged me.
No one had spoken to me and given me hope as much as she had done within the period that the school was knocked down. Sometimes if we cannot give people money when they come to us for help, giving them a word of encouragement could do more than magic.
âWe are renovating our school.â She told me. âPerhaps we could assist you with our old furniture.â
This was all that I needed; HOPE! On my way out, she gave me two thousand naira for transportation fare.
âThank you maâam; may God bless and reward you abundantly.â It meant the whole world to me.
I got home and told my wife about it. I said if we got the furniture as promised by the woman, we could sell half of it and use the money to build a portion of the school to at least regain the lost confidence in the parents of our pupils most of which were surreptitiously planning to leave us.
The news I brought home from the woman made my wife glow and from that day, she began to work hard without complain.
One day, I decided to take her and my daughter along with me to the woman who had promised us furniture. I reasoned that if my wife saw the womanâs school, she would be further encouraged to hold on patiently with me. But that was one of the biggest mistakes Iâve ever made.
When the woman saw me, she dropped hail upon my feeble head.
âI donât like the way you are stalking me. Leave my office. What is wrong with you? You donât follow me like that or is it a crime to promise to help you?â
I could not believe my ears hearing her hurl those words at me. Dazed, I stood craning my neck in all directions. Finally, I tendered an apology and dejectedly left the office with my wife and daughter.
I have been embarrassed many times in life but that remains the most painful experience for me because it happened in the presence of my wife and daughter. Tears filled my heart but I could not shed them because I must prove to my wife and daughter that I was A MAN. For this reason, I tried to suppress the grief for days. I deleted the womanâs number from my phone after I had sent her several messages expressing how terrible I felt.
After that, I went into prayer and fasting alone for three days. I reasoned that only God could help me not man.
âShow Your mercy. Show Your mercy o God!â I prayed endlessly.
And it happened.
The third day after my fasting and prayer, I was reading a book in which I saw that all O+ blood group people are donors. I am O+. This revealed something to me; told me more of whom I was. Some of us are born to GIVE not to RECEIVE. If you are born to give, donât ever beg. Just continue to give and things will come your way naturally. All that you need are tied around your ability to give.
âJapheth, you have been asking from people, how many people have you given to yourself? If itâs difficult for you to receive, then give.â
Those were the words that continually echoed in my head. That night, I vowed never again to go about begging people to help me. I was going to help people instead. I was O+; a donor!
I prayed fervently in my makeshift school alone that night.
âGod, from this moment, I shall continue to make people smile. I know You will not forsake me. I will not beg like a pauper again. I will give from now onwards.â
The next day, I went into the street, picked three children from indigent homes and offered them scholarship to come to school for free. I provided everything they needed.
Two weeks after this, I got a call from a friend. She had a client who wanted someone to work with him as an editor to proofread his proposals and letters.
âYou can operate from anywhere Japheth. All that you need to do is get a mail from him, edit and resend.â She told me.
That was it. I had a meeting with the man few days later and he offered to pay me seventy thousand naira as salary. That money was like a million naira. It came at the right time. One day, he called from Illorin asking me to go to his office at Wuse Two to edit something for him.
âI must send it tomorrow,â he told me with a matter of urgency. âPlease try and finish it and send to back to me.â
The next day was a Thursday. We were already on holiday. I went to his office and found a proposal he had written halfway in his PC. I began to work on it and spent the entire day on it. I sent it to him around ten Oâclock that night. Done, I began to head home.
I was at Berger Junction when his call came.
âI have seen the job. Well-done Japheth,â he told me.
Later he asked where I was. When I told him, he demanded to know if I didnât have a car.
âI have sold it sir,â I replied. âI shuttle now.â
âHa, this isnât good. You canât be on the road by this time of the night plying commercial vehicles. I will call you tomorrow.â
That was it! He called me the next day and said I should meet his driver for a âsmall package.â I was at Wuse Two in a jiffy. There, a fairly used car with all the documents was waiting for me!
I went wild with ecstasy.
Many of us cry to men all the time for help without stopping to ask who the people we beg for help cry to. I cannot no longer cry before my fellow man when there is a God I could cry to who is capable of using men to turn things around for me. I rest my hopes on Him and He has never disappointed me. Angels are out there to help us all but we can never meet them until we become angels ourselves. Remember, masquerades know where to find or meet themselves. You can never sufficiently get help from people if you yourself have not been a channel where people less than you could get help.
I have become an angel too since then because I need to meet angels in my life. Since I was embarrassed in front of my wife and daughter years ago, I never rely on man anymore. I give abundantly and angels locate me.
A year and a half later, I employed a driver. He was the man who had come to incite other parents to withdraw their kids from my school; the one who said his daughter would not stay in my makeshift school. It only goes to show that only the Creator could tell what future lies ahead of us. Speak evil to no one because you have no idea what would happen tomorrow. Hold no grudge against no one if you seek help from them and get insulted. Look up instead and you will be shocked at how much help the Almighty could provide you without stress.
Only those who understand these things live happily in this crazy world of ours where we all strive to be above others; where some wish they were your God.
By Japheth Prosper